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World IT Show review (1) – Aluminum Alloy Composite Material for Ships, Coming with Both High Strength and Ductility

In the last week of May, CyberLogiteckers visited World IT Show held in Seoul. Today, we’re going to talk about our tour of the event. For there were a lot of interesting exhibitions available at the venue. We had to keep our eyes locked on trends in various areas of IT such as 3D printer, wearable devices, 5G, FinTech, healthcare, and IoT.

Notably, we spotted an interesting ship-related material which was presented by a college research lab, and we’re going to talk about this. As we all know, most of the existing ships are made of fibre-reinforced plastic, or FRP. And the aluminum alloy has been developed as an improvement on this.

As for existing ships, they cannot be recycled when they are old. So, the ships have been entirely disposed of or recycled as scrap iron. This isn’t easy. And it’s not eco-friendly.

Aluminum Alloy Composite Material for Ships
A photo image of aluminum alloy material

Using aluminum and involved problems

So, we have put the issue in a different perspective. How about building a ship with a greener material? And we have come to think of an aluminum-based ship. If we build a ship with aluminum, we can significantly raise the recirculation ratio. Besides, it makes a ship relatively light. So, a ship’s speed can go up.

But, aluminum has a serious drawback. While iron can be welded, it is not easy to weld aluminum. So, it is difficult to connect aluminum pieces through conventional welding. Another problem is its low strength. And this creates the disadvantage of reduced stability. Since it registers low levels of formability and weldability, it increases assembly cost. Hence the development of a method that would address the issues.

Developing aluminum alloy

The researchers applied ARB method. ARB method uses welding zinc in forming biomodal structure from the three types of aluminum of AA1050, AA5052, and AA1050. And the tensile strength increased 2.2-fold from before to after the application of the method. And the strength increased about 1.5-fold compared to aluminum 5052 (202MPa).

Compared to the existing shipbuilding materials, this aluminum has four characteristics.

  1. Sturdier than plastic, it registers greater safety.
  2. Being lighter, it helps reduce fuel cost.
  3. Unlike FRP, it can be recycled, and thus, it is eco-friendly.
  4. Characteristically of aluminum, it resists corrosion thus

As an improvement on the existing aluminum, it is a new aluminum alloy created with jointing technology. The picture below is a prototype for the ship made of aluminum alloy composite material.

Aluminum Alloy Composite Material for Ships
Small version of ship made of aluminum alloy composite material

In the future, we may see a large container ship built with a new material, as seen in this image.

For eco-friendly ships, profitability needs to be proved

The development of such various materials and advancement of shipbuilding technology are going to alleviate the worry of shipping companies. Even though there is increasing interest in environmental protection and a variety of regulations are strengthening, shipping companies can’t easily decide to acquire eco-friendly ships because of the shipbuilding cost and operational efficiency. Despite the obvious reduction of pollutants with eco-friendly ships, there has existed no confidence in their financial feasibility.

However, provided that a variety of new materials including the above-described aluminum alloy continue to prove weight reduction and improved strength for ships, ships will clearly benefit from reduced fuel cost. When that happens, we think, shipping companies will be actively involved in building eco-friendly ships in a bid to secure their cost competitiveness and respond to environmental regulations.

This article is exhibited by ICT & Shipbuilding Convergence Research Center in World IT Show and shared here with his approval.